This article is divided in three;
- How to setup one project and leverage the power of templates.
- How to get overview of all your projects.
- How to leverage the integrations.
Pressing the big pink action button to the upper right is all you need to get started.
You are now asked to fill some essential details about your project.
- Name - Use a logical name. Forecast will give the project a running number. If you work with clients then you can of course put in the client's name, but we don't recommend it, since you will be able to directly attach a client to the project in the next step.
- Start and end date - All projects should have a start- and end date, however some projects might be more of a support of ad-hoc task soving nature. Forecast fully supports this. In this case, we encourage you to put the end date as either years end or "budget" end.
- Duplicate another project - This is a huge time saver! You can let another project work as a template, which will enable you to implement one or more best-practice project models in your organisation. More on this later in the article.
- Add some project labels - This will help you sort and categorize projects, which is very useful for reporting purposes. Just as important, labels are used by the AI engine to make better predictions.
- If you want to use agile - Choosing agile will ask you to define the length of your sprints. Internally at Forecast we sprint a week at a time, launching new software each Monday. Besides giving you the option to plan using sprints, choosing agile will also surface other reporting metrics, e.g. Velocity.
Defining the scope, and building a proposal
Now you have your project, and you're ready to define your Statement of Work through the scoping page. Go to scoping in the left menu of your project.
Scoping is a great way to define your tasks, estimate their time, and put them into manageable chunks as milestones. When creating a new milestone, you give it a name and a start- and end date. The work defined inside the milestone will automatically adjust to the deadline set by the milestone.
When you scope upcoming work in Forecast, we ask for a little information; first of all the title of the task, the main role it fits (e.g. developer), and a low and high estimate of time it takes to finish. Afterwards, you need to approve the card by giving it a checkmark to the right, or approving all cards in the milestone at the bottom. Cards can only be approved by project managers or admins.
Based on this information, the AI engine behind Forecast, will automatically make a forecast of a more precise estimate of hours and cost of each task you have created. The cost is based on the predicted estimate, the rate card connected with the project and the main role you chose for the task in question. More on rate cards later.
An example: The developer role in this particular project has a rate of $150, and the forecast gives us an estimate of 18,5 hours, which combined results in an estimated price of $2.775.
Now the calculation is pretty simple, but what makes Forecast stand out from the crowd is the artificial intelligence. The AI engine learns from your previous history of projects and data, combined with all the data from other users of Forecast. We use data such as your low and high estimates, the words and labels attached to a task, the role connected to it, and the people assigned to the card, to improve our algorithms and bring you the forecast.
This actually means, the more you use it, and the more other companies use it, the better it gets to predict your projects. Predictions that ultimately mean the difference between earning a profit and having a loss.
Now, when you're done scoping and have approved all of your cards, you can move onto the budget of the project. You will see that the data you put into the system during scoping has already been transferred directly to your budget.
At the top you're able to switch the view between "money" and "hours", depending on what you wish to see. Below the chart, you can define the fixed project price (if any), and see data such as reported, remaining and projected hours. Based on the forecast estimates from scoping, you can see the total forecasted price of the project. Towards the right you can see the projected and forecasted profits. If you're ever in doubt, you can always click the information icon next to the measure.
If you wish to export the budget, you can do so by clicking the download icon in the upper right of the chart. This will give you an instant download of a .CSV file with your budget data.
If you're running an agile project, you'll also see the sprint page in the left project menu. Sprints (i.e. agile) can be enabled/disabled in project settings. The meaning of a sprint is to break down your milestones into smaller chunks of work called sprints. Sprints have a specific defined period, often 14 days, followed by a meeting to evaluate the past sprint and plan the next. You can read more about agile on our blog.
After scoping (and sprinting), you'll also find your active cards on the workflow board. Here you can see all of your tasks and their current status. Open each card to add more details, assign people if you know who should work on it, comment on it, add files, etc. If you're not sure who're available with the right skills; you may want to use our quick booking feature in scheduling. Read more on this.
The project overview, found in your left project menu, strives to give you a unique glimpse and perspective on your projects. Here, you'll see some of the most important metrics, incl. general project status, whether you're behind or ahead of schedule, status on your current sprint, and the project timeline below. Read more.
Roles, rate cards and costs
After you've setup your first project; it's time to add your team members and their designated roles. Roles in Forecast are used in combination with rate cards, and those rate cards in combination with the time tracked by individual team members decides the costs.
Initially setting up roles in Forecast is done through the administration panel.
Afterwards, you find the roles tab to the left.
In here, you find your list of current roles, and the input field and button to add a new role.
When you've added all your roles; remember you can always add/remove later, then you can move on to add your rate cards. Find rate cards in the left-hand menu in the administration panel.
Similar to the roles, here you can add and manage all of your rate cards. Edit an existing rate card by hovering over the one you wish to edit, and click the edit or delete buttons.
Creating a new rate card, you simply click the 'add rate card'-button to the upper right. Give it a name, and the new rate card will be added to the list. Hover over it, and click edit as showcased above. Edit the rate card as shown in the animation below. Changes do automatically take effect and apply from that moment.
Setting a default rate card is super simple from the list of rate cards. Just use the on/off toggle as shown below. You can change the default rate card at any time.
As mentioned above, costs are automatically determined based on your roles, rate cards and registered time. Costs will be reflected on the budget of each project.
Adjust the workflow to your needs
Altering the workflow to your needs is super simple. If you just need to change the name of some of the processes in the workflow; you simply click the text and edit to whatever you want. Changes are saved immediately.
If you wish to add a new column, you simply click 'new column'.
The new column appears to the left, and you can edit as needed. Give it a status; to-do, in progress, done, give the column a name, and move it around simply by dragging it around.
To delete a column, simply click the hamburger icon, and then 'delete'.
Making a project template
Making a template or duplicating a project in Forecast is quite easy. You simply go to the project settings, use the hamburger icon to the upper right, and click 'duplicate project'.
Likewise, using another project as the template is also possible directly when creating a new project. Simply, choose yes in the project creation form, and select the project you wish the new project to imitate, as shown below.
TOOLTIP: This is especially useful if you need to create many similar projects, e.g. cards, teams, etc. for building smaller, medium, larger websites, or other somewhat similar workflows. A great way to save time is to create Template 1, 2, 3, etc., and just keep them as inactive projects that you can easily duplicate for a real project. It will automatically copy everything, i.e. workflow columns, cards, team, roles, settings, etc. That way you can save time, and influence your team into working a specifically defined workflow. Then simply duplicate your template, tailor it to the project, and get cracking within minutes.
Delegating tasks and booking your team
Assigning a task to a team member is done directly from the card itself. You can open the card both from the scoping page, and from the workflow. Click the title of the card, and choose the people you want to assign to this card. The process is the same from both places.
Comment on a card
Commenting on a card is a great way to collaborate, and keep everybody in the loop who's engaging with this particular card. It can be anything; important information, fun fact, a joke, asking somebody a question, etc. Just go to the comments tab on a card, and get chattin'!
Moreover, you can mention a person with the "@"-symbol following their name.
Mary will now get notified of this mention, and she can reply back to you.
Integrating with other tools
Forecast supports integration with various tools. You can dig deeper in the app catalog, found in the administration panel. Forecast will make sure to import, export and sync data between your services as you need it; keeping your data up-to-date across platforms at anytime.
Find the integration(s) you wish to connect, and follow the guide as presented to you. You can also find help center articles on all the integrations.
Each team member has a designated permission level. This is set by an administrator, and can be changed at any time. Simply, choose the level during creation of the team member, or go to the 'team members'-tab in the admin panel to change the level later on.
Scroll down on the following page, and find the 'Permissions'-section. Here, select the permission level as desired for the chosen team member.
Read more about each permission level in this article.
Still got questions?
Always, if you have any further questions, we have an extensive help center, or otherwise our team is always ready to assist you using the chat button in the lower right corner of your screen.